Lizzie Borden lived in the quiet neighborhood in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of wealthy Andrew Jackson Borden, who, despite his wealth, was described by his peers as frugal and often bitter and mean. Lizzie was tried with the murders of both her father and step-mother on the morning of August 4, 1892 but was later acquitted due to the lack of relevant evidence. There are many speculations as to what really happened on the morning of the murders, but more speculated towards Lizzie.
The murder of Abby Durfee Gray Borden:
It is believed that her step-mother, Abby Durfee Gray Borden was cleaning the guest room in which a man named John Morse had slept in the night before. Abby was face-to-face with her killer at the time of the attack, according to forensic evidence. She was struck with a hatchet on the side of her head, cutting above her ear and forced her onto the floor, facedown. The murderer sat on top of her back and repeatedly smashed the hatchet to the back of her head 19 consecutive times.
The murder of Andrew Borden:
Around 10:30, Andrew Borden comes home from running errands, his key wouldn’t open the door and had to knock in order to be let in. The maid, Bridget, unlocked the door for him and found that the door had somehow been jammed. When he was let in, he asked where Abby was, to which Lizzie responded that she had been summoned to help a sick friend and that she assumed she left. Although the maid heard Lizzie laughing from upstairs around the same time Abby had been bludgeoned to death, Lizzie denied it. It was believed that Lizzie had told Bridget there was a sale and insisted she go but Bridget was feeling sick, rejected her offer and took a nap.
During the morning of the murders, it was especially hot. Lizzie stated two accounts of what happened while her father was being killed; one claim stating that she had been in the barn in search of a tin to fix a door then stayed in the loft for about half an hour. But because it was so hot, the police and others were skeptical and didn’t find footprints in the dust to match her story. She later changed her story at the trial, claiming she was in the barn for 10 minutes looking for sinkers for a fishing trip she was planning for the following week and then came back to find her father dead with his face butchered and was completely unrecognizable.
Bridget claimed that she was resting at the time of Andrew’s death and heard Lizzie yelling for her to come downstairs around 11:00am-11:10am. Because of his eyeballs being split in half, it is assumed that he was sleeping at the time of the attack. [SOURCE]
Although notoriously acquitted for lack of evidence, much of the evidence pointed at Lizzie being the killer. For example:
- Lizzie Borden’s claims were often contradictory. During her trial, she would change her story and some of the changes were completely off base of her original claims. Like when she said she was in the barn at the time of her father’s murder but then said she was eating pears on the loft.
- She would be questioned about her “mother” Abby and would respond with an attitude and her voice would reflect distaste for her, constantly stating that she wasn’t her mother. They never had an endearing relationship, eating meals separately and hardly exchanging words.
- Before the murders, she visited a neighbor and confessed she believed a rival of her father might come to kill him. But the day of the murder, she aggressively insisted that the help do obscure errands for her. If she felt threatened, then why would she set herself up to be alone?
- Although she had claimed that a messenger came and delivered a note summoning her step-mother to visit a sick friend, the note was never found. It was later on speculated that it seemed strange that she would be summoned by a friend when she hardly had any, and was never the type of person to help someone in need.
- Lizzie’s sister, Emma, was out of town, John Morse, who was a household guest at the time, was visiting relatives, Bridget was outside cleaning the windows and Andrew Borden was running errands at the time of Abby’s death, leaving Lizzie home alone.
- The day before the murder, Lizzie was seen visiting a drug store and tried to buy prussic acid but the druggist refused to sell it to her.
- Lizzie also had a complicated relationship with her father and often resented the fact that he transferred a property to her step-mother’s sister instead of to her.
- Days following the murder, she was seen by her neighbor burning a blue dress and told the police that the dress was ruined with old paint and wanted to get rid of it.
- After finding out her parents were killed she sent people off to do errands instead of wanting to be comforted, especially if there was a killer around the neighborhood.
- A hatchet was found in their basement but the blade was cleaned off and the handle was broken off and was later found out that it was by the hands of Lizzie Borden herself that broke off the handle. [SOURCE]
What is strange about this case is that even with all the evidence gathered against Lizzie, it was still not enough to convict her of the murders. There was no physical or forensic evidence. At the time, fingerprinting wasn’t completely developed. They were also unable to bring the point of Lizzie trying to purchase deadly acid to trial. During the time of the murders, the society didn’t believe a woman was capable of much, let alone murders. And this ideal among the lack of evidence set her free.
The house has been turned into a bed and breakfast, which includes a reenactment of the murders and a tour inside the house. [SOURCE]
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.
No idea why my mother used to sing this while I was a kid.